04/17/12 — Club looks for computers to refurbish for children

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Club looks for computers to refurbish for children

By Steve Herring
Published in News on April 17, 2012 2:20 PM

The Goldsboro Optimist Club has launched a new program that will help people dispose of old, unused computer equipment while at the same time helping the area's needy children.

"Everything we do deals with young people," said club president Bill Edgerton. "We are always looking for projects and programs that will do that. Charlie Wood is one of our newer members and he has developed this program -- we are going to refurbish computers donated to us and sell them for probably a $40 fee, but it could be less.

"The low-income kids, if they don't have books in the home, they are behind when they get up to middle school. If they don't have a computer, they are behind. We are trying to level the playing field some and that is what this program does."

"If they can't afford the $40 then we are asking the public to sponsor a kid with $40," Wood said.

To help raise funds, the club is raffling off a new HP Pavilion dv6 or comparable laptop computer. The winning ticket will be drawn at the club's meeting on Aug. 7.

Tickets are $5 each or five for $20.

Proceeds from the raffle will be used to purchase parts to complete the computers and the $40 fee will go back into the project to help make it self-sustaining, Wood said.

"This will be an ongoing program," Edgerton said. "Once we get it going, I feel very strongly that it will grow."

Club members will do the work.

"We will start out doing the refurbishing and at some point, we may get high school kids and college kids from Wayne Community College involved with that process," Edgerton said. "We have been approved through Microsoft as a registered computer refurbisher."

"We get software at a very reasonable price that enables us to actually do the refurbishing process at a much better cost than anyone else," Wood added.

The refurbished computers will go to students in grades 6 through 12 in the Wayne County Public School System who are from low-income families.

The club is partnering with the county's adult literacy program to provide some computer training to parents before the child receives the computer, Edgerton said. Wayne County Public School will provide the names of students.

"The social workers will be able to identify those students who might have a need," Wood said. "Instead of just identifying low-income family kids, they just identify a kid who would possibly qualify to participate and provide them with an application for their kids to fill out. We would review the applications to make sure they meet the guidelines that we set."

Data on old hard drives will be cleaned off and a new version of the Windows 7 operating system installed.

"The thing is people are probably a little reluctant or hesitant about giving their PCs up because some of them may have sensitive data on them," Wood said. "We are going to go through a process that's DOD (Department of Defense) approved. Then the disks are totally useless at that point."

Wood said that software will be used to re-write hard drives three times to remove the old data. A copy of the software will be provided to people who want to destroy the data on the hard drives themselves. It can be a lengthy process taking several hours, he said.

Unusable hard drives will be destroyed before being disposed of.

The club already has begun accepting old computers, and Edgerton hopes to start distributing them in August. There is a limit of one computer per qualified family.

Judith McMillen at Prudential The McMillen Real Estate Group office at 1004 N. Berkeley Blvd. has agreed to allow her office to be a drop-off point for the computers, Wood said.

On June 2, club members will hold a Computers4Kids Donation Day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Sam's Club.

On that day, Optimists will collect the following used computer items in working condition: Laptop, desktop and tower computers with 1.4 GHz or faster CPUs and Windows XP or later operating system; 15-to-17-inch CRT monitors; 15-inch or larger LCD monitors; keyboards; mice; and power cords and cables.

Applications for a refurbished computer will be available and free popcorn will be provided that day as well.

For more information, an application or to purchase tickets, send an email to Computers4Kids@goldsborooptimist.org or call 919-920-1585 or 919-920-8541.